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Wednesday, 16 February 1977

Mr E G WHITLAM (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) am asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:

(1)   What steps have been taken to verify the allegations by Dr John Coulter and Mr Avon Hudson on the radio program AM on 2 and 3 December 1976 that the British Government had flown radioactive waste including plutonium from nuclear power stations in Britain to Maralinga, where it was secretly buried at night

(2)   Are the assurances given by the Minister for Supply in response to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on 1 4 September 1972 (Hansard, pages 1384 and 1503) still valid.

Mr Killen - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   There has been thorough investigation of all the records and evidence has been taken from Australian officials who held responsible positions at the time. This investigation has turned up no evidence whatsoever supporting the allegations that radioactive waste was brought from nuclear power stations in Britain for burial at Maralinga.

(2)   The assurance given by Mr Garland in 1972 remains valid regarding risk. In addition to debris from experiments carried out in the area, some small quantities of radioactive material from the following sources are also buried at Maralinga:

a.   washings from British service aircraft which participated in nuclear tests at Christmas Island in 1 957-58 and which later flew to Edinburgh Airfield for cleaning and maintenance.

b.   nuclear medical waste from the University of Adelaide.

Imports of Rural Products from New Zealand (Question No. 1786)

Mr Lloyd (MURRAY, VICTORIA) asked the Minister for Overseas Trade on 8 December 1976 the following question, upon notice:

(   1 ) Can he say whether there are two new large scale vegetable processing factories at Pukekohe and Fielding in New Zealand which will add to that country's vegetable exports to Australia.

(2)   If so, were there any discussions between Ministers or officials or other groups under NAFTA before these factories were built; if so what guarantees were given of access to the Australian market; if not, has Australia, directly or indirectly, conveyed the impression that any New Zealand rural product has a right of entry to Australia.

(3)   Can he say what direct and indirect financial assistance, such as taxation measures, was provided by the New Zealand Government to these two factories, and what export assistance will be provided for the products.

(4)   What procedures are available to Australian vegetable growers to protect themselves from such imports.

Mr Anthony -The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   1 have no information on the establishment or location of any new vegetable processing factories in New Zealand. I understand that two New Zealand firms have undertaken modest expansion of production facilities.

(2)   There have been no discussions under NAFTA concerning establishment of new vegetable processing factories in New Zealand. A range of processed vegetables are listed in Schedule A to NAFTA. Under NAFTA such goods are assured of duty free entry into both countries. NAFTA also contains rules regarding the application of quantitative restrictions on goods traded between the two countries.

(3)   See answer to (1).

(4)   Australian industry may seek protection from imports through a reference to the Industries Assistance Commission or the Temporary Assistance Authority. If such a course of action is considered necessary in respect of processed vegetables, the industry concerned should submit a case to the Department of Industry and Commerce. Any action taken by the Government in respect of New Zealand as a result of IAC recommendations must take account of Australia's obligations under its Trade Agreements with New Zealand.

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